What are Marriage and Family Psychologists?

Challenges are inevitable in a marriage and families often have persisting conflict. That is where marriage and family psychologists or therapists come in. Marriage and Family Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that examines and addresses every family member’s behavior and the ways that they affect the family unit and everyone.

This type of psychologist will also focus on the relationships within the family unit because each one is important for a healthy family. The treatment in this type of psychotherapy is often divided between individual therapy, couple therapy, and family therapy.

What Does a Marriage and Family Therapist Do?

A marriage and family therapist will examine and assess any psychological distress within the context of the marriage or the family unit. They are also qualified to diagnose and treat mental illness that may be impacting the relationships within the family unit.

These types of therapists also commonly provide different types of counseling services including child counseling, relationship or couple counseling, and divorce counseling.

A marriage and family therapist has a lot of responsibilities. Not only do they have to diagnose and treat mental illnesses for any of the individuals in the family unit, but they also have to work in the context of parents, children, couples, individuals, and the family as a whole. They will assess the problems that the family is facing and develop a treatment plan to move forward.

These psychologists, counselors, and therapists are qualified to treat a wide range of different conditions and problems that may be causing the family conflict or other issues. They can help to manage anger within the family unit or the individuals. They can address the anger that may be between only two members of the family even if it is affecting the entire family.

They can also treat anxiety and depression. These conditions often cause trouble with relationships. However, therapy is a highly effective way to treat anxiety or depression and a marriage and family therapist can do just that.

Grief is another issue that often infiltrates a family unit. When someone in a family dies, it can affect the unit as a whole in addition to each individual separately. This can be hard to manage without the help of a mental health professional. A therapist can help the family move on and work together to progress in a healthy way.

When Should You Seek Help from a Family and Marriage Therapist?

Since there are such a wide range of things that a marriage and family therapist can assist with, it is sometimes difficult to know when it is a good idea to seek help. There are some situations that may help you decide, but every situation is unique and if you feel like some therapy sessions would help, that is the best indication to find a marriage and family therapist.

If the members of the family have rage, excessive sadness, fear, or other strong emotional reactions to each other, that is a sign that there are likely some underlying things that need to be addressed. In addition, if you feel like it is difficult for any or all of the members of the family unit to communicate, then a therapist may be able to help.

Any time there is violence or even a threat of violence, it is important that you should seek help. In addition, sometimes family members isolate themselves from the rest of the family. This can be hard to navigate on your own without making the situation worse.

As far as children are concerned, if there are any drastic changes in behavior it should be a sign that you may want to seek professional advice. This is especially true of their behavior escalates quickly or if they feel hopeless or anxious. They may also lose interest in the things that they used to enjoy.

Finally, if one or more members of the family have dealt with a traumatic experience that is hard for them to cope with or if one or more members of the family is dealing with substance use or abuse problems, then your family unit may benefit greatly from seeing a marriage and family therapist.

What to Expect from Marriage and Family Therapy?

Usually, marriage and family therapy is short term and often involves 12 sessions. However, in more severe or problematic instances, more sessions may be necessary. The therapist will meet each individual and meet with everybody separately.

The first session will typically involve the gathering of information about the issues that are concerning each member of the family. Then, the therapist can move forward and develop a plan that will help all the different members. Sometimes this is complicated because every dynamic needs to be taken into consideration.

The theory behind marriage and family therapy is that it does not matter if the problem is within the individual or the family unit as a whole because any problem can negatively impact the family dynamic and structure.

This type of therapy aims to work towards an end result or goal. They want to work with each member of the unit towards that goal and progress as a group. There will almost certainly be snags along the way, but as long as you keep putting in the effort, then it is likely that some progress will be made.

Final Thoughts on Marriage and Family Therapy

Families will all have their own concerns and problems. Conflicts are bound to arise. However, if the problems are causing the family distress or it seems impossible to get past a certain issue, sometimes it is necessary to seek the help of a marriage and family therapist.

Both individual mental health issues and problems between the relationships involved in the family dynamic can cause issues that need to be addressed one way or another if the family wishes to continue as a healthy unit.